Coalition wants ministers axed

MASERU — A coalition of trade unions yesterday said they want Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to fire two government ministers for alleged incompetence.

The coalition told a press conference that Mosisili should fire Education Minister ‘Mamphono Khaketla and Labour and Industry Minister ‘Maphoka Motoboli “because they had failed to do their job”.

They said they will call a general strike next Thursday if Mosisili ignores their demand.

Ramohapi Shale, who is the president of the Lesotho University Teachers and Researchers Union (Lutaru) said the country’s tertiary institutions were in crisis and needed to be sorted out immediately.

“We will be writing an urgent letter to the Prime Minister to release the two ministers with immediate effect,” Shale said.

“If that does not happen we will go to his office and insist that he fires them.”

Mosisili in September asked Khaketla and Motoboli to look into the coalition’s demands.

The taxi operators were demanding a 100 percent fare hike while tertiary students wanted the government to increase the education sponsorship fund to enroll all students in tertiary institutions.

The business sector wanted the government to stop foreigners from running small businesses and leave them for the locals.

But two months after the meeting the trade union leaders said the two ministers had failed to address their concerns.

Shale said Khaketla had failed to solve the problems haunting the country’s tertiary institutions.

He said the minister failed to intervene when management at Lerotholi Polytechnic College, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology and the National University of Lesotho arbitrarily shut down the institutions last month.

“Schools are being shut down whenever their managements want to. We have tried to ask the minister to intervene but she has failed to meet us,” Shale said.

Last month the Congress of Lesotho Trade Unions (Coletu) staged a sit-in at the minister’s office to press Khaketla to address the crisis in tertiary institutions.

The deputy principal secretary in the education ministry, ‘Mota Sekonyela, then promised to set up a meeting with Khaketla.

The meeting, Shale said, had failed to take place.

“We learnt a few days later that she went on leave a day after our visit. She showed her lack of competence by leaving in the middle of a crisis that she needed to deal with,” Shale said.

Khaketla last night refused to comment on the matter while Motoboli’s mobile phone was not available.

Tšeliso Ramochela, the secretary general of the Lesotho Congress of Democratic Union (Lecodu), said Motoboli had treated textile workers with contempt.

He said negotiations to improve the textile workers’ salaries and conditions of work had failed to bear fruit.

“Textile workers’ concerns have not been treated in good faith and with seriousness. We were so disappointed that while we were in negotiations, a gazette was released and the minimum wage was nowhere near the M2 020 that the factory workers are looking for,” Ramochela said.

He added that the new gazette that was released on October 1 still stipulates a two-week maternity leave for factory workers.

Meanwhile, lecturers at Limkokwing University said they will on Monday resume an industrial strike that was postponed in February.

LUCT academic staff union spokesperson, Malefetsane Nchaka, said they want management to deal with the “unbearable workload”.

He said lecturers had been forced to take up extra courses because the university was reluctant to hire more lecturers.

They also want the management to review the issuance of contracts for employees.

The lecturers also want the management to lift the “confinement on campus” that bars them from leaving the university campus during working hours.

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